Missing the mark: Current practices in teaching the male urogenital examination to Canadian undergraduate medical students

Kristen McAlpine, Stephen Steele


Introduction: The urogenital physical examination is an important aspect of patient encounters in various clinical settings. Introductory clinical skills sessions are intended to provide support and alleviate students’ anxiety when learning this sensitive exam. The techniques each Canadian medical school uses to guide their students through the initial urogenital examination has not been previously reported.

Methods: This study surveyed pre-clerkship clinical skills program directors at the main campus of English-speaking Canadian medical schools regarding the curriculum they use to teach the urogenital examination.

Results: A response rate of 100% was achieved, providing information on resources and faculty available to students, as well as the manner in which students were evaluated. Surprisingly, over onethird of the Canadian medical schools surveyed failed to provide a setting in which students perform a urogenital examination on a patient in their pre-clinical years. Additionally, there was no formal evaluation of this skill set reported by almost 50% of Canadian medical schools prior to clinical training years.

Conclusions: To ensure medical students are confident and accurate in performing a urogenital examination, it is vital they be provided the proper resources, teaching, and training. As we progress towards a competency-based curriculum, it is essential that increased focus be placed on patient encounters in undergraduate training. Further research to quantify students’ exposure to the urogenital examination during clinical years would be of interest. Without this commitment by Canadian medical schools, we are doing a disservice not only to the medical students, but also to our patient population.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.3679